By Abderrahmane Kheddar, on behalf of the French Research Robotics Network (GDR Robotique)
It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing of Professor Philippe Coiffet on Friday, 20 October, at the age of 83. Philippe was a remarkable person. As a scientist, he was a visionary and open-minded researcher; he dedicated his life to the field of robotics (in particular, telerobotics and virtual reality) and leaves us a rich legacy. On a human level, he was incredibly friendly and kind, and an outstanding mentor for his students.
Philippe Coiffet, born in 1940 in Pompaire (Deux Sèvres), France, received a doctorate in nuclear physics from Orsay University. He spent his entire scientific career at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS). In 1972, he set up the first public robotics research team at the University of Montpellier. Since then, he has taken several secondments. He has been a project manager for the French Ministries of Industry and Higher Education and Research, where he set up the Ateliers Inter-établissements de Productique (AIP). Philippe Coiffet also coordinated France's first robotics program, Automatisation et Robotique Avancées (ARA), from 1980 to 1984, set up by the CNRS and directed by Georges Giralt. He was a visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (1985-1986, robotics center) and a professor at Institut National des Sciences et Techniques Nucléaires (INSTN). He was one of the founders of the Laboratoire de Robotique de Paris (LRP), of which he was a member from 1987 to 1999. He also created the Centre de Robotique Intégrée d'Ile de France (CRIIF), a center dedicated to innovation that bridges academia and industry in robotics; he was the director of CRIIF from 1987 to 1991. With Dr. Kazuo Tanie, he established the Joint Research Laboratory (JRL), an international joint research unit between CNRS and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba, Japan, dedicated to research in humanoid robots. As a professor at INSTN, he set up a masters degree in robotics as well as two specialties in robotics and production engineering, one at INSTN and the other at the University of Transilvania in Brasov (Romania), of which he is Doctor Honoris Causa.
Philippe Coiffet's early work was mainly in telerobotics and computer-assisted teleoperation, on which he worked with Jean Vertut at the Nuclear French Authority (CEA); he also worked on bimanual telerobotics and computer assisted telerobotics for nuclear facilities maintenance. Later, he shifted his research toward virtual reality, in collaboration with Professor Grigore Burdea from Rutgers University. He developed the first force feedback data glove in France, and he worked on enhancing computer-assisted telerobotics with virtual and augmented realities. He has published over twenty scientific books on robotics and virtual reality, most of them translated into English and some into other languages, as well as over 300 articles on these subjects.
Philippe Coiffet was Vice President of Association Française de Robotique Industrielle (AFRI) and received the Engelberger Award from the US Robot Industry Association (RIA). He was a founding member of the National Academy of Technology of France. Philippe Coiffet is a Knight of the Légion d'Honneur.
At this link (www.lirmm.fr/philippe-coiffet/), you can leave a personal message to remember and honor Philippe.